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By Dino Estevao on 2018/04/30 07:11 PM
 

Suddenly the stretch between Namacunde and Chiede became very dangerous to travel, let alone for those who lived there. The twenty-four kilometers roads became known as the road of death and only few dared to venture there in the years from 1978.

 

My last trip through that road was in 1978 with my mother and her sister my favourite aunt, Helena or maybe I was her favourite nephew. 

 

I was very sick and they had to take me to Namacunde hospital. Life in Southern Angola was becoming extremely difficult and the only vehicles reaching place like Chiede were the military trucks that brought supplies of the basic commodities. The vehicle was often escorted by FAPLA. 

 

We had to climb in those truck and travel for what seemed an eternity. The road was bad, part of it washed away by the rain and part of it was perceived to be a minefield.  We huddled together as my mother prayed for our safety throughout the dreadful journey. I was shivering due to the high fever...
By Johan Du Preez on 2017/08/03 10:02 AM
This memoir deals with a specific time in my life when I stepped on a landmine in Angola in 1975, losing my right leg lower down below the knee. This happened when I was part of Operation Savannah, at the time a secret operation of the South African Defence Force. The landmine incident itself is not the story. It merely serves to tie together some of my experiences before the incident in a country (Angola) at war with itself and some of my experiences afterwards as we, the casualties of this war together with those who took care of us, coped at 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria. In doing so, my aim was to recount a part of the Operation Savannah history that not many know about – the battle of the casualties of this war. At the same time I wanted to give recognition to those silent and unsung heroes of Operation Savannah, the medics. Johan du Preez, July 2017 _________________________
By Dino Estevao on 2017/05/31 09:50 PM
 The doctors have done a great job. Three times that I had to undergo surgery and was feeling legs moving again. Three times I had to fly to Grootfontein and back as Grootfontein offered better conditions to reconstruct my limps. The doctors had to remove part of skin and patch up the bullet wounds. At least I could now move my legs but the disfigurement was ugly and the scars were permanent. 

 

That beautiful athletic figure was permanently disfigured, but at least I was alive.

 

As I started recuperating I also started becoming more and more aware of my surroundings, my new environment and the people. One day as I woke up I heard two men speaking in Portuguese, "Capunda is dead... pisou na mina." The man with the bandages who arrived a day before was telling the other men who were equally in bandage and in great pain. They were exchanging news of the war front

 

Hearing of the death of Capunda send my body into a cold shiver, I almost dug deeper into the bed. Capunda,...
By Johan Schoeman on 2017/05/31 12:29 AM
Saturday evenings, southeast Angola, March/Apr 1988... Our SADF forces have settled in for the night in their respective hides in the bush east and south east of Cuito Cuanavale. The descending silence is a welcome respite to the day's fighting, harassment fire missions, bombing and rocket attacks by enemy MiGs. That is when the Brigade HQ signaler gives us the "All clear", indicating that all the brass have left the Brigade Administration Area (BAA) somewhere in the bush northwest of Mavinga, to go and have some well-deserved supper and drinks with the UNITA brass at Mavinga. That is when suddenly the air waves are thrown open for abuse and all the subunits (well, at least the artillery ones that I knew of) in the field would take a chance to tell jokes and have a go at each other over the radio (yes yes I know... we seemed to have been a pretty undisciplined lot!) You have to KNOW someone Afrikaans to appreciate the Afrikaner sense of humour and understand the crude nature of certain words and phrases in Afrikaans...
By host on 2017/02/06 06:11 PM
VETERANE Ons, die Veterane van die Bosoorlog, raak nou ouer En met die ouderdom vergeet ons baie dinge Nog erger: elke dag is daar minder van ons oor Om ons stories aan die mensdom te kan bring. Hoe dan gemaak om ons verhale te bewaar?

Ons kinders (en hulle kinders) verdien om te weet Wat het ons, hul vaders, dan regtig gewaag. Toe ons self maar jonger as hulle was! Nie alleen net om hulle helde te wees, Maar meer dat hulle net kan verstaan Die groot opoffering deur ons gemaak!

Erkenning and aanvaarding is al wat ons vra Van diegene wat ons harte op hulle hande dra. Medaljes is slegs vir vertoon, Net so ons balkies, vermeldings en eredrag Waarmee ons graag hulde bring aan die manne Wat ons nie saam terug kon bring...

Kom ons eer die...
By Dino Estevao on 2016/05/13 08:57 PM
The road to Botswana look at the critical phase where members of the 32 Battalions, those who started the war in 1961 could no longer perform the fighting task, they were either dead, injured or too old to fight(COSSA RABO) but the institution needed men to fight so the school, Pica-pau had young blood. but when this failed the second option was to recruit in the surrounding area, across the river. And that is when Hotel company was created
By Johan Du Preez on 2015/09/05 02:10 PM
I was the engineer troop commander when we advanced into Angola by road – destination Cela – in November ‘75. It was a mix of all sorts. All of us in green uniform. None of us were South Africans (of course!). No SA Army dog tags (only dog tags with our blood group on them). All markings referring to South Africa even scratched off our toothpaste tubes. And our Bibles. Do you remember the Bibles we received in Grootfontein (in Afrikaans, nogal) with those first pages where one normally reads where it had been printed, totally blank?
By Dino Estevao on 2015/08/28 10:13 PM
while doing a research for the "in search for home" I could not ignore this institution and how the managed to infiltrate this unit. Although their stay a Buffalo was short(After few hours they were expelled), they managed to make contact and link many families back in Angola
By Dino Estevao on 2015/08/28 10:02 PM
This part of the extract from the search for home
By Gert Hugo on 2015/08/23 06:00 PM
I wanted to talk about emotions and feelings for a while now. I'll try and cover emotions as I relate a very broad sequence of events.

The build-up to Op Savannah was exciting. A few cross border raids etc. made me believe, man o man this is the real thing. Then working with the refugees made me all the angrier towards the heathen enemy. (I did not have the knowledge then that I have now and gobbled up all the propaganda we were fed.)



The trip back to RSA with all its glitches. Taking Toon Slabbert’s unserviceable armoured cars back to Walvisbay from Ruacana. A mad dash overnight as we had to catch the troop train back. Having to beg for a lift from PW bloody de Jager to catch the troop train at Usakos. This after Toon Slabbert promised us that we will be looked after. De Jager is still not one of my favourites because of the way he treated us and made us wait. Bloody arsehole. 

The trip back...
By Bobby Thomson on 2015/08/22 01:09 AM
The run-up to the attack was as follows: After the successful operation Reindeer and the battle at Cassinga or (Moscow and Vietnam) bases, SWAPO had to do something to save face and they came up with Ops Revenge. The strategy was to attack and annihilate Katima Mulilo, Wenela, Golf and Mpacha. A force of SWAPO and Zambian military personnel and equipment was gathered on the other side of the river and longer range weapons were positioned along the riverbank between Sesheke and their border post "Katima Mulilo" which was situated just across the newly scraped no-mans land from Wenela Base, which in turn was situated at the point where the Zambezi River turns into Zambia and the so-called Kaplyn started.



[View from the guardpost on the wall at Wenela looking towards the Zambian border post (their Katima Mulilo, meaning place where the fire dies). In the foreground is the beginnings...
By Dino Estevao on 2015/08/13 08:26 PM
Many parents look at the sunset and hope that the quiet nights will bring news of their children. Over the years I have had people coming to ask if I had met so and so and with a heavy heart I will say no but deep down I hope so and so will come back to his village or at least the family will find I closure. The children of the war is dedicated to those children who have crossed my path while searching for a home.
By Dino Estevao on 2015/08/11 10:23 PM
December 1995. I arrived at O’shikango, the border of Angola and Namibia. To my disappointment I was not allowed to cross the border, to go beyond Santa clara. I wanted to go to chiede, I have traveled all the way from South Africa, just to be told, “that’s it, son. You cannot go further north.” My father said with a voice of authority and the rest of the men that were part of the first meeting agreed with him. Although I was happy to have met these men and to share some form of kinship, the years spend apart have robbed us of some vital connectivity. The sense of belonging “here” was so overwhelming but lacked the essentials, I was happy but also sad. The war has robbed me of my family, of my childhood and stolen the beauty and innocence in me. Now I was trying to regain some of it, going beyond Santa clara was my way of regaining what I have lost, what was snatched from me that fateful morning in 1980. For fifteen years I cherished, nourished the memories of the small town, the soccer field next to the school were we played before the war intensified. I also remember the trenches that were dug around the town giving it more of a warzone appearance. I remembered as people moved out of the countryside to build houses around the town, clustering and fend off intruders. ...
By Dino Estevao on 2015/08/11 10:17 PM
The first few month in early 1976, the withdrawal of the South African Defence Force(SADF) which left UNITA running for the proverbial hills. Chiede became a very quiet town, almost abandoned except for the herdsmen who brought their cattle for water at the water pump. Then slowly the system started functioning steadily, the communal administration, the school and the hospital followed by other infrastructures. MPLA knew how to mobilise and its propaganda mechanism was second to none. From an elderly man to a small child everyone fitted in the puzzle. There was ODEPE for the elderly and fragile man, OMA, JMPLA and pioneiro, the later was to be scratched of the operational plan as it violated the right of the child. Chiede became a hub of activity and many people especially from the north east started moving, clustering on the south eastern side, between the water pump and the trenches dug around the old town parameters. The new centralization soon became a disaster, a death trap. From the north eastern side...
By Tony Savides on 2015/06/24 08:58 AM
FROM THE OTHER SIDE: PART 2/6Please remember that, as stated in Part 1 and throughout this series, the views and comments herein are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person or organisation.Lest anyone think that the foregoing (or anything that follows) is a plea for sympathy for the “plight” of the PFs; perish the thought - we all knew what we were letting ourselves into! We were merely getting what we had proverbially wished for.Of course, with the advent of increased national service, greater numbers of officers and instructors were required and the Junior Leader training regime kicked in. I am of the firm opinion that the finest junior leaders produced anywhere in the world at the time were those produced by the SA Army’s JL programmes in the 1970s and 1980s. These young lads, most of whom had just left school, progressed from boys to leaders of men in the short space of less than a year – from schoolboy to leading a platoon, troop, section or squad into battle under the most trying...
By Tony Savides on 2015/06/23 03:45 PM

Looking at National Service from a PF point of view...


By Anthony Turton on 2014/08/06 03:16 AM
The assault moves in under cover of darkness. My troop is to the left of the axis of advance, careful to avoid the wetland that we know exists at the far end of the runway which is our designated primary target. We navigate off the burning tower, so as to keep the radio net clear for more urgent traffic. The driver knows what to do as he synchronises his actions with the crew commander and gunner.

“Alpha Group move now, out!” comes the command over the network.

That is us, so we move, careful not to advance faster than the vehicles on each side of us, the driver navigating through his periscopes off the burning tower visible in the clear night air. As we move, the Bravo Group is stationary alongside, laying down covering fire of both 90 HE and Browning.

“Bravo Group move now, out”, comes the order from the squadron commander. Silently the well trained crew stops in position, the driver looking for cover as appropriate to present the lowest possible profile for an RPG counter-attack, the gunner...
By Johan Schoeman on 2014/07/22 01:43 AM
Dedicated to the officers and men of 82 SA Mechanised Brigade, who, on this day, lost three of their tanks... call signs 12A, 52 and 53...
By Johan Schoeman on 2013/12/16 03:41 PM
My most nerve-wracking ride ever was when I just arrived at the Brigade Admin Area near Mavinga in the beginning of Operation Packer (Feb/Mar 1988), having just lead all the vehicles of our battery there all the way from Rundu, at least in my Ratel, but without a single map, compass, or any real sense of where I should be going with all this equipment except my sense of direction... Luckily the bush was full of dozens and dozens of tracks of vehicles that had gone there before us, but we were under strict instructions to break our own path through the bush and NOT follow any of the existing tracks. All that map training for NOTHING! The FIRST map I got to finally see was pinned up on the map board at the Brigade HQ when the Commandant took me to it and pointed to a position on the map that seemed surrounded by the little red flags of the enemy positions... a lonely blue flag seemed to indicate where we were at that moment... Before then I had NEVER even heard of a place called Cuito Cuanavale! Anyway... I was...
By Dino Estevao on 2013/12/05 10:19 PM
  

Omauni was my first stop from Oshakati military hospital. The Buffel, a military vehicle rolled out of the hospital yard, stopping briefly at the gate for a routine check by the guards, then opening the gate and the vehicle drove away. Leaving the comfort and safe haven that the hospital offer me during my stay. The drive was slow and each passenger kept to himself, praying and hoping that the vehicle did not drive over a landmine or came under attack.(that was the state of being then)

    Our arrival at Omauni brought a sigh of relief and breathing to normal. The buffel came to stop and everyone reached for their military gear and climbed off to parade or a quick gathering and administration. Being the only none military personnel I took my bag and stood aside, waiting for Tito Appolinario. He knew his way around the place, after the gathering we marched to a far end part to a tent where he was received in a warm comradely reception. Here I was issued with a sleeping bag and couple of boxes of...
By Dino Estevao on 2013/11/14 10:29 AM
The pain of not knowing if my family survived the massacre at Chiede was hard to bear, when I left chiede, under the tree near the water pump(seen in the photo) I took off my shoes that were shoaked in my blood… but what I did not know and was only to find out fifteen years later was few meters where I fell bleeding, my brother Leo, my hero let out his final breath. In the proof life, which is central to my writing, “In search for a home.” I tried to pen down the struggle to reach my parents and theirs to track me through Namibian towns, maybe not physically but through letters to tell them that I was alive.My first letter that i wrote in 1982 reached them and gave them hope that i was alive.But where was I? I was fortunate that in December 1995 I stood tall at Oshikango, and anxiously waited for my father to take me home. I was looking forward to be home for Christmas.
By Dino Estevao on 2013/10/02 10:43 PM
To understand the story of the Angolan border war or the “Bush war” as is widely referred in the some military circle. I want to take you back, about fifty year prior to the outbreak of that war in 1966, the date that is widely accepted as the beginning of the border war. In 1911 King Nande, the aging king of the kingdom of Uukwanyama died and his successor, the new king was his 17 years old nephew, Mandume ya Ndemufayo. Born in 1894, Mandume ya Ndemufayo was groomed by his maternal parent and academically schooled by a German missionary, pastor Adolf Wulfhorst. At the age of 17, he became the succession to the throne of the Kingdom of Uukwanyama. Although Mandume was not the direct heir to the throne, his ascension brought relief and stability in the kingdom. He was young, strong and demanded respect and discipline, than his uncle Nande who was old, weak and was loosing control within his ranks and delegated...
By Dino Estevao on 2013/06/06 03:58 PM
I arrived in the west Caprivi in the late windy August afternoon of 1980, the place that was to become my home for the next nine years was built in three geographical areas with natural boundaries. At one side was the crocodile infested water of the Kavango river and the other side was the dense forest with some of the most dangerous animals. Because we came from Katima mulilo instead of the usually route from sector 20 in Rundu... all the arrivals and departures to Buffalo have to go through sector 20 at Rundu where a thorough inspection and administration have to be completed but for unknown reasons to me we could not secure seats in the military plane from Grootfontein to Rundu, so we boarded the next best flight. Grootfontein to Katima mulilo and then by road to Buffalo, west Caprivi. As I mentioned earlier that lance corporal Tito Apolinario was responsible for my safe arrival to my adopted parents, must also mentioned here that one lieutenant whom I failed to record due to the language or age or both, he...
By Dino Estevao on 2013/05/24 12:38 PM
as I stood next to my father looking at the biggest military build up rolling past us into the beautiful town of Chiede, i did not know the extend and the damage but I felt the earth shaking beneath my feet. Was I scared? Hell, no!
By Phillip Vietri on 2013/05/11 08:51 PM
The terms opfok and rondfok were fundamental concepts in the SADF. In the classic definition, an opfok was simply a session of punishment exercise, whereas in a rondfok the emphasis was on the psychological effect. Sometimes it was very hard to tell the difference, sometimes there wasn’t that much difference, and sometimes the two were concurrent. Both were part of a strategy to toughen us up. And it worked; let there be no doubt about that. One of the remarkable aspects of SADF soldiers was their ability to function under high levels of stress, of how relatively few actually cracked up, modern discussions on the topic of PTSD notwithstanding.The PT we received during opfoks and rondfoks was, with retrospect, just part of our Basic training programme. But given in the form of “punishment”, it had all kinds of extra psychological advantages for our instructors, such as promoting vasbyt and samewerking. We didn’t realise this at the time, of course. Opfoks were pretty effective in getting us to put pressure on fellow...
By Phillip Vietri on 2013/05/11 08:14 PM
On our first Saturday morning at 5SAI Ladysmith, after the “disaster” of First Inspection the night before, there is no pack-out inspection, but the bungalow is expected to be tidy and clean, our beds perfectly made, uniforms perfectly ironed, boots perfectly polished, shaves as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Somehow, miraculously, we get through this simple inspection without incident. Perhaps an oppie is not on the cards for this morning.Then we line up outside the QM store, where we are at last to be issued with our rifles. This is a moment of tremendous excitement for us. We have already been told all about the R1: the SADF’s first modern infantry rifle, a piece of precision equipment, the power of its 7,62 calibre and so on. Everything about the R1 is superlative. They have seen to it that we 18-year-olds have become thoroughly worked up about it. We can hardly wait to take into our hands the weapon that will be our constant companion during our diensplig and beyond, without which we can scarcely even call ourselves...
By Dino Estevao on 2013/05/10 02:53 PM
 

My journey through the border war: In Search for a home

Oshakati

One day as I limped around the hospital, I stopped at the door of the tent that was also a ward. I heard somebody calling me, when I went in I saw a group of men sitting around on the beds. They were also patient like me, the silence and the expression on their faces made me think that something was amiss.  They offered me a seat, “Dino, you must not go back to Namacunde.” One of the man said, “you were lucky to have survived… next time you might not be so lucky.”  This were men that I did not know from a bar of soap but the way they addressed their concern, even my ten years old could not disagree. Beside I did not know if my parent survived the massacre at Chiede. After a long debate between these men, different scenarios and possibilities were put before me, but there was of small details could not be overlooked. I was a ten years old with physical disability in a country unknown and no family or clue how to survive. The...
By Phillip Vietri on 2013/04/07 04:55 PM
The shooting range was such an ordinary part of an SADF soldier’s life that few fellows, if any, bother to discuss it in their books. Even at the height of the Bush War, the great majority of soldiers never got to shoot at the enemy. The only time they shot was on the shooting range. Since this is not a Border War blog, where much more exciting things occur, I may as well describe the shooting range in more detail here. The information given here will focus on the procedure and terminology on the range. I have described Boshoek in Ladysmith in another place, so I will focus on Schurweberg, just outside Voortrekkerhoogte, here. Bar the transport arrangements, the actual shooting procedure was very much the same, wherever you were in the SADF.Shooting was usually a whole day affair. It included the usual quota of PT and opfoks, of course. After breakfast, you stood kit inspection in browns with staaldak, webbing en geweer, though in fact you took your bush hat with and wore it on the range. The tiffies checked your...
By Phillip Vietri on 2013/04/07 04:25 PM
Few guys have much to say about guard duty, because it didn’t vary that much from place to place in the SADF. As with shooting, everybody had to do it, though unlike shooting nobody enjoyed doing it, especially in winter. It is neither a good thing nor a bad thing – just something that has to be done in any army.Whether you were G1 or G4, if you were not exempt from shooting, you stood guard duty at the Depot, though G4s received priority as hekwag (opening and closing the gate for vehicles and pedestrians), lucky sods! Across the road from Tekbasis, inside the perimeter of the Military Medical Institute (MMI), was a small building housing the Army’s mainframe computer. G4s who were exempt from shooting did guard duty there, two at a time, behind a thick glass window. All they had to do was check the IDs of incoming personnel against a list of about fifteen authorized officers from 2nd Lt to Colonel. These were then buzzed in through the heavy security gate, their comings and goings being logged in the Diensboek....
By Phillip Vietri on 2013/02/19 08:56 PM
I can’t say that many guys were particularly committed to the political lectures we received at 5SAI during the early 70s. Propaganda eventually palls, and if the person delivering it is not convincing, it often has no effect at all. There were a few real gems, such as our Captain’s description of us as noble soldiers, not "members of the grey, bespeckled civilian mass.” Unfortunately for him, that is exactly what most of us wanted to be! We were doing our National Service, and a substantial percentage of us were quite willing to be there doing it. We wanted have the experience of being soldiers, and we wanted to serve our country. But few of us saw it as our future...
By Johan Schoeman on 2011/11/18 11:52 AM
October, 1981 — Southern Angola

SWAPO had suffered heavy losses during Operation Carnation and Operation Protea which were executed in the western and southern theatres of Southern Angola. Because of this, the situation was as follows:

· The North-Eastern Front (NEF) was cut off from the rest of the SWAPO forces.

· The Northern Front (NF) Headquarters had dispersed and the guerrillas had fled in the direction of the command post.

· The morale of SWAPO was low due to the disruption and an acute shortage of food supplies.

· A battalion SWAPO guerrillas had arrived at the command post in order to lay ambushes towards the south as protection.

FAPLA forces had withdrawn towards the north to join units further north. They were busy with reconnaissance tasks in order to reoccupy towns in Southern Angola.

The on-going process of intelligence-gathering after Protea indicated to the South Africans that SWAPO had moved their command post to a position in thick bush northeast...
By Johan Schoeman on 2011/11/07 12:00 AM
It was Friday evening, 30 Oct 1981, at Omuthyia, the base of 61 Mechanised Battalion Group in Northern South-West Africa, the day before the start of Operation Daisy (D-6).

It started off as a quiet evening, with all the “Big Brass” gone for dinner in nearby Tsumeb for their last civilized meal for the next three weeks. Major Schoeman, an infantry officer (I was not sure what his appointment was at this time), the RSM, AO1 Barnard, and the junior officers were left in charge at the base – no one else was allowed to leave so close to the start of an operation …and the NCO’s and troops of Alpha Company and Bravo Company (all from 1 SA Infantry Battalion), Charlie Squadron (from 2 Special Service Battalion), Delta Company (H Coy from 1 Parachute Battalion), and Sierra Battery (from 43 Battery in Walvis Bay). All the training and final “staal parade” (inspections) had been completed and the troops settled in for a final day of rest before the movement out to the Assembly Areas on D-5.

Three...
By Johan Schoeman on 2011/05/31 02:37 AM
I was recently reminded of the air observer part of my artillery observer (OPO) training in Potchefstroom in 1984, when I read a few exciting chapters of Mike Brink's book ''On the flightlines'. See the Books and Book Reviews Forum on War in Angola (http://www.warinangola.com/default.aspx?tabid=590&forumid=84&postid=1108&view=topic).

First the instructors took us up in a Cessna to demonstrate and explain how to orientate yourself and how to acquire a target from the air, followed by a lengthy discussion of how to adjust fire from the air. Of course, we were VERY attentive... after a three day and night stint of no sleep doing night infiltration exercises...all four of us in the plane were fast asleep!

Then all hell broke lose when we had to apply the theory in practice as we were sent up individually with the pilot in a Bosbok! Not quite having found my air legs, I seated myself in the back of the Bosbok and the pilot took off!

...
By Arthur Smith on 2011/04/28 08:33 PM
Angola / SWA April 1982 to July 1982

 

Greetings all

 

Can anyone out there help me with this? 7SAI was meant to deploy to Eenhana in early 1982 but while we were in the air as it were, we were directed to Grootfontein and then did a long road haul down to Kamanjab (South of Etosha) to help chase down a group of terrorists led by a guy with the name of Kilimanjaro. After about a month or so, this exercise was successful along with the help of some artillery regiment that pounded the local mountains to flush these guys out.

 

At the time that there were some very explicit propaganda pamphlets that were air-dropped every time that a kill was recorded. As far as I can remember, it was the most south that a terrorist group had even infiltrated in SWA.  I can’t remember the name of the Operation, but doing some research, I came up with Operation Yahoo?

 

http://www.61mech.org.za/operations/9-operation-yahoo

...
By Johan Schoeman on 2011/04/20 05:12 PM
Angola had strong Soviet and Cuban backing, and supported SWAPO/PLAN to the extend of providing assistance to the insurgents, co-locating Angolan troops in PLAN base camps in order to help protect them from South African aggression. The continued support to PLAN incursions prompted another strike by the SADF into southern Angola in 1980. This was Operation Sceptic, launched on 25 May, targeting the extensive 'Smokeshell' complex and several other base camps in Cunene province just north of the border. This is a small gallery of about 20 exclusive photos taken by Kobus Nortje during the operation.
By Jim Hooper on 2011/04/19 12:28 AM
This was my first article on UNITA, published in the INTERNATIONAL DEFENSE REVIEW 1/1989. The conditions and situation described are as it was in 1989...
By Jim Hooper on 2011/03/12 01:39 AM
Scouring the bush lands of South West Africa for SWAPO insurgents, the hunter-killer combat groups of Koevoet operate on the principle of maximum firepower

THE COLUMN of four Casspirs and one Blesbok had broken from the heavy bush into an open pan spotted with trees and drooping thickets, a water hole at the centre. Suddenly it came… Boesman's voice crack­led over the radio - 'Contact!' My eyes snapped to Du Rand, sitting across from me. There was one of those forever half-seconds before Jim spat 'Contact!' and grabbed for his weapon.

Following a week-long tour of the South West Africa/Namibia Operational Area, I stepped off the C-130 Hercules back at Ondangwa Air Force Base. The lieutenant meeting me looked as though he was attending a funeral. ‘Authorisation finally came through an hour ago,' he intoned, shaking his head. ‘You leave tomorrow for a...
By Johan Schoeman on 2011/02/26 02:22 AM
Members of this WarBlog will be able to view this collection of 99 EXCLUSIVE slides have been provided to War In Angola by Jaco van Zyl and comprises of snapshots taken during Operation Protea in August 1981, mostly of Combat Group 20 and their attack on Xangongo and Ongiva...
By Phillip Vietri on 2011/01/22 11:55 PM
The exact terminology of the Seventies I no longer remember, but the Infantry Basics was effectively about three months long. The first six weeks of this I have described in Part One. The next six weeks passed relatively quickly and uneventfully, except for the time my wax ear-plug popped just as I fired. I ascribe the tinnitus from which I suffer today to that single shot. Ironic, isn’t it; they wanted to G5 me because of the right eye, and yet it was with a damaged right ear that I came away, my vision intact. The hardest for me during this second period was Buddy PT, especially skaapdra, which isn’t really saying much for most guys. But it all did come to an end.                 I had survived the G1 training. Just. But I had survived. I was fitter and healthier than I had ever been, feeling really good. And my Afrikaans was already beautifully fluent. It was clear that I would never be great infanteris, that my left-eyed shooting was probably more of a danger to the SADF than it would ever be to the enemy....
By Tyrone Heyl on 2011/01/18 09:27 AM
Having just returned from a weekend pass, a little late, ok quite late, some of us had not unpacked our kit. We are suddenly asked to fall in as there was an urgent announcement, so with whispers of what could be going on we fell in.

We were told that they need a G5 gun crew to escourt a gun being taken to Rundu and were calling for volunteers. With promises of a long weekend pass upon our return in a weeks or two, my hand along with 7 others guys went up. As most of us had not unpacked as yet it was to did not take long to get ready.

We were allowed to make 2 phone calls before going to hospital (still not sure why). I called my mom and told her I was going tp the border again but only for a week or two.I called my dad and told him I had a feeling this trip would be longer than "advertised". After sorting out the logistical requirments we climbed into a Samil and left for Pretoria.

Once there we were put into a corner and told to wait, and wait we did till the sun had set and the airport was quite. At about 8pm we were called to go through and there was the familiar C130 with the staff from Lyttleton supervising the loading of a brand new G5. Once all the additonal cargo had been loaded we boarded and the flight took off for Rundu. Arriving at about midnight we helped unload the gun, parked it to one side and we were shown to accomodation for the rest of the night.

...
By Phillip Vietri on 2011/01/18 01:59 AM
This is a blog, not a scholarly paper. I hope that its title is not too misleading. I have written a narrative, rather than a “balanced” article of pros and cons leading to an academic conclusion. But as an Italian South African who grew to maturity between the mid-fifties and the mid-Seventies, my experience of the English-Afrikaans thing has been so markedly different from that of many others that I feel compelled to offer mine as a corrective view. I haven’t a drop of either’s blood in my veins, and therefore no prior allegiance to either group. What I have done, is simply to tell the story of my relationship with both.

But first, I must declare an interest. I regard myself today as an Afrikaans-speaking South African. I made the transition during the course of my army days, as a direct consequence of my personal experiences. I was once told that I am “very pro-Afrikaans”, as though there is something wrong with this. The underlying presumption is that to be “pro-English” is to be objective, whereas...
By Phillip Vietri on 2011/01/18 01:27 AM
Why am I writing this in the first place?

I’m not quite sure why I’m writing this blog. Many of those who have real Angola War experiences to share were involved, right at the Border, during those tumultuous years. My little story is comparatively tame and uninteresting. Operation Savannah happened in the month in which I cleared out, and I did no camps, so that my experience remains in something of a time-warp. My story is full of stops and starts, embarrassing narratives and generally nothing much. What I can tell you is what it was like for a physical weakling to do the full G1K1 SADF training; how even a militarily useless individual can achieve something, somewhere in the army; what SADF life was like during the mid-70s. In short, I can perhaps tell you something about those early years, before our first unofficial official crossing of the Border; and perhaps add to the human legacy of those years. Savannah didn’t happen in a vacuum, and this story will fill in something of what led up to it, and...
By Johan Schoeman on 2011/01/11 05:51 AM
I was deployed as an anchor observer (call sign 35A) with a 2nd Lt (Lt "Pikkie" Prinsloo) and a Lance-Bombardier acting as Technical Assistant, for the attack of 82nd Brigade on the Tumpo Triangle on 23 March 1988. My position on the Chambinga high ground directly east of Cuito Cuanavale gave me a panoramic view of the entire Tumpo Triangle as well as the Cuito and Cuanavale Rivers and the town of Cuito Cuanavale beyond. I also commanded a good view of the east slope of the Cuito high ground to the west of the Cuito River and my primary task was counter-bombardment of Fapla artillery batteries and rocket launchers deployed there. I was unable to see any of the actual defences of the Tumpo Triangle itself and therefore engaged very few targets of opportunity there. Only when I saw the occasional vehicles dart out between the dense bush did I attempt engagements of targets in the triangle. I could clearly see the high ground in the "Delta" north of the Cuito-Cuanavale confluence, where another anchor observer...
By Johan Schoeman on 2011/01/11 05:36 AM
I had a few 'Close Encounters of the MiG kind', as early as November 1981, during Operation Daisy. I was appointed Battery Captain ("BK") for the 120mm Mortar Battery accompanying 61 Mech into Angola and was responsible for the direct resupply of the battery from the "A Echelon". In the artillery we have an officer doing this job, unlike in other corps where the responsibility usually falls on the Company Sergeant-Major. I was only a young 19 year old "bicycle" (2nd Lieutenant) and I was leading the A Echelon vehicles (mosly Samil-100 10ton trucks - no mine-resistant Kwêvoëls available for us then). Most were loaded to capacity with 120mm mortar ammunition followed by some general supplies (like toilet paper - THE most required personal commodity in the echelon!).

So there I was, despite almost 2 years of gunnery training, stuck in the cab of a 10ton truck, hauling supplies - usually the lot of the youngest PF officer in the battery, although it was supposed to be a Captain's job, hence the title "Battery...
Recent Blog Entries
IN SEARCH FOR A HOME
Posted on: 31 May 2017
"Saturday Night Live"
Posted on: 30 May 2017
BUSH WAR VETERANS!
Posted on: 06 February 2017
The Road to Botswana
Posted on: 13 May 2016
Supper in Sá da Bandeira
Posted on: 05 September 2015
The red cross
Posted on: 28 August 2015
Operation Savannah
Posted on: 23 August 2015
 

 

Recent Blog Comments
Re: Operation Savannah - The battle of the casualties of the war
Duncan, I remember you well!

Unfortunately I do not know about Maj Kruger. I've made enquiries in the past but wasn't successful.

Take care!
By Johan du Preez on: 17 May 2018
Re: Operation Savannah - The battle of the casualties of the war
Hi Johan
You mentioned 1 Mil in your story. I was there 15th Nov 1975 spent 9 mths-also very secretive. Lost both my arms. You mention a Major Kruger -Social Welfare. She was a wonderful person. Would you by any chance know if she is still alive and if so, how to contact her. I last met her in 1980 at 1 Mil.
Great site
Regards
Duncan
By Duncan Mattushek on: 16 May 2018
Re: The Battle of Mongua: From Ondjiva to Preira d’eça
Sorry to reply very late Lukas, but the story of the statue is a sad one. In short the money to make the statue was either stolen... There is lots of infighting in the provincial government.
By Dino Estevao on: 30 April 2018
Re: The Battle of Mongua: From Ondjiva to Preira d’eça
I must say i'm so happy to see my great grandfathers name being mentioned in the books of history. i grew up hearing of his names in stories (folk tails), know i have discovered myself his name and his contribution to the world history and the shaping of the Namibian and Angolan borders of today
By Thomas Mweneni Thomas on: 29 April 2018
Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added
Hi Johan
I drove 72C in smokeshell, Kobus Nortje who has put up a number of Photos was in 72A
As you know from Hilton's email above I have written a book that Hilton is editing and I'm looking for good photos. How do I contact Kobus to ask him for permission to use the pictures?
Thanks Brian
By Brian Davey on: 02 April 2018
Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added
Hilton, I could not find the exact reference in my notes, but I suspect it was Lt Paul Louw as I do remember reading about that report. As soon as I pint it down i will get back to you again...As to the photographs, none of them belong to me. Many come from the 61 Mech site and you may be able to obtain high res ones directly from them.There has been too many holdups and issues re the publication (mostly from my side) so I would have to re-approach the publisher to do it "my way" as previously they wanted me to reduce a 200-page manuscript to 64 pages to fit to the standard format of the publisher's series. It was not exactly what I had in mind, so I put it on ice...
By Johan Schoeman on: 16 March 2018
Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell)
Hi Johan,
Thank you for the wonderful service you provide for Bush War vets.

1. Can you tell me which officer said during the attack on Smokeshell, "My troops are bleeding!" It might have been Maj Fouche.

2. An old friend of mine, Brian Davey, is writing his memoir of National Service, including Smokeshell. He was driver of Ratel Seven-one Charlie. I am doing the editing, and would greatly appreciate permission to use some of the photographs you have here.

3. When do you think your book will be published?

Thanks again
By Hilton Ratcliffe on: 06 March 2018
Re: 23rd of August 1978 01h15 I remember it distinctly.
I was 10 years old and went to skool in Katima Mulilo, I will never forget that knight, siting in the bom shelter. Our house was against the Zambezi river next to the gest house.
By Jan Cronje on: 23 January 2018
Re: Operation Savannah - The battle of the casualties of the war
Thank you for the interesting information, Sandy.
By Johan du Preez on: 03 January 2018
Re: Operation Savannah - The battle of the casualties of the war
It seems we never accomplished anything in Angola you with your foot taken in a slippery place....I was part of 16 maintenance unit ...a soldier escorting convoys all the way to Silver Porto from Grootfontein on many occasions between Dec 1975 and Jan/Feb 1976 . Everytime a truck a truck broke down we were expected to run and take cover in a bush we did not know waiting to be blown away whilst the tiffy's tried to fix the trucks on route ,,,lastly we then had to ride shotgun on a diesel/petrol train up from Lobito on the Benguela train line ,,,up the steep escarpment at a snails pace waiting to be blown away which never happened .We then after two weeks having to guard it whilst daily pumping to trucks was done to fill the underground tanks kept at the monastery abandon the train as is whilst we had to hitch a ride back to the states. A high light was being a barman at one of Jamie Ys's movies beautiful people at Grootfontein. People do not know what a civil war can do and the comfort they have or had living in in SA..For some reason I never was called to do any camps or had made contact with the 9 others who were part of that "escort defence unit" a real mix breed of English/Afrikaners .Unfortunately I but did almost lose my leg from the knee playing soccer up in Jhb lying all tied up for over 2.5 months as they battled to save it in the Mill Park hospital in around 1983.This eventually effecting my whole body.I guess it keeps one humble and the glory be to the One and only God ...regards
By Sandy Carter on: 02 January 2018
Re: "Trying to destroy the Olifants"
Dankie Johan vir insiggewende artikel

Ek was daar saam RPS, moes die volgende oggend n' "tenk gaan recover", diesel refill...met my Samil 20 Lappiespomp. Daar aangekom was die track af aan die regterkant, n' paar jong UNITA "soldate" het daar rondgestaan, Nodeloos om te sê, moes maar omdraai en teruggaan na TB. Die sand was so dik die vooras van die Samil 20 het oppad terug gebuig en dit het my omternd die hele dag geneem om 13km terug te ry.
By Gerhard on: 21 December 2017
Re: Various opfoks and rondfoks during Basics
Have got new info - NATO actions perhaps suspicious, but Russia also has a problem. Need more intel on Russia before helping it. BRICS and Zuma, Rusatom nuclear power (poor whites will pay again), Russian war veterans on the Freedom Park memorial etc. Very complicated topic, with lots of "fake" news.
By German volunteer on: 27 October 2017
Re: 23rd of August 1978 01h15 I remember it distinctly.
My memories are not as good as Hugh and Jims but I do think this was the scariest night of my life, waiting for the next explosion and hoping it wasn't me next.
By Craig Sharland on: 30 September 2017
Re: In search for a home: proof of life
Gud day my name is dionisia dos Santos. The daughter of the late Fernando dos Santos. My father was a medic soldier of FNLA in angola n later went to Buffalo 32 battalion. Then koevoet zulu delta were they ended up in south africa. My father n mother died wen we we're very young. Now we are old and want infomation abt my father so dat we can trace his roots. We want to know his family. Coz we don't have any family here in south Africa family so dat we reunite with them again. Plz if there is any info do not hesitate to contact me. My number is 0027765877705, we are based in south africa.
By dionisia dos santos on: 29 September 2017
Re: 23rd of August 1978 01h15 I remember it distinctly.
My sister is currently touring the area and her talking about the area and sending photographs has brought back memories of that horrific night. I was sleeping in the bungalow next to the one that was hit that night. 40 years later I still have vivid memories and count my blessings.
By Jim Tait on: 21 September 2017